September 2006 - Radio Dial

How to Identify When Radio Is Wrong for Your Direct Response Offer

By Joe Rashbaum

Every year, I see a ton of money wasted on radio. Marketers are sold deals by station sales reps who have far better knowledge of how to spend their commissions than about whether that offer can actually work on radio. That said, consider these factors to determine if radio is worth testing by you:

Offer genre - The radio listener’s mentality is simple-he or she needs to be convinced of your offer, sight-unseen. This is why non-visuals (nutritional supplements, financial services, self-help programs, etc.) work more efficiently. Listeners usually hear your message in a car-accordingly, automotive-related offers usually test well. Self-improvement offers (such as beauty products) can test well, but not if they rely too heavily on visuals (anti-aging formulas work more often than say, makeup or jewelry).

Pricing structure - Low price points, including $19.95, rarely pay out on radio. The reason is simple: radio often delivers fewer leads than other mediums, but those leads are the most qualified you’ll ever see. Think about it-those listeners make an appointment to hear that station at the same time, five days a week. They had no visual impression, yet called a number they only heard mentioned two or three times. This is usually a person in “buy mode”). This is why high-ticket offers, such as mattresses, gifts and flowers, GPS, etc., tend to work better than the cheaper kitchen gadgets.

Creative claims - Respectively with FTC restrictions, you need to ask yourself four simple questions:

  • Can I establish the motivating need for my product in under 10 seconds?
  • Can I prove that it is the magic bullet answer to people’s needs in the next 30 seconds?
  • With the remaining time, can I make an “idiot-proof guarantee” as to why people would be crazy not to respond, and still mention my phone number or website three times minimum?
  • Finally, can you do all the above without relying on visuals?

If the answers to all (not just some) of those questions are yes, then radio can work for you. However, even if one of those questions is answered no, save your money.

Potential ROI - While “primetime” radio is much less expensive than “primetime” television, radio test budgets can still add up. Assume you might pay an average of $275 for an infomercial, $100 to $600 for top 20 market local spots, and $400 to $2,000 for a network spot. Knowing that you might get as few as two to four closed leads per spot locally, do those economics work for your business?

There are literally hundreds of successful direct response radio offers nationwide each week. These criteria are working for many companies. If you don’t fit them, then radio may not be right for you. Otherwise, radio may prove to be a viable test medium.

Joe Rashbaum consults many radio direct marketers, including traditional television and print DR companies, as president of The Radio Solution Co., a full-service, radio direct-response creative and media agency. He can be reached at (805) 279-3391, or via e-mail at [email protected].


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